Meet the Presenters

Melissa Cole, MS, IBCLC  

Melissa is a board-certified lactation consultant, neonatal oral-motor assessment professional, and clinical herbalist in private practice. She has been passionate about providing comprehensive, holistic lactation support and improving the level of clinical lactation skills for health professionals. She enjoys teaching, researching, and writing about wellness and lactation-related topics. She holds a Bachelor of Science degree in maternal child health and lactation consulting and her master’s work is in therapeutic, clinical herbalism. Melissa actively conducts research and collaborates with several lactation and health care professional associations. Melissa loves living, working and playing in the beautiful Pacific Northwest with her 3 children.

Megan Dunn, BS, IBCLC, RLC  

Megan has been working with lactating parents for over 15 years as a board-certified Lactation Consultant, Lactation Educator, Peer Counselor, and in various volunteer capacities. She has taught other professionals, advocates, and hopeful lactation students at the college level, through continuing education programs, and as a preceptor. She is the President of the Oregon Washington Lactation Association and is a presenter on various lactation topics at local, national, and international conferences. Her professional interests include the gut microbiome, impact of tethered oral tissues, and providing lactation support that works in synchrony with biological norms and infant reflexes. 

Bryna Hayden, IBCLC  

Bryna is a lactation consultant, mentor, educator, and birth doula in the Pacific Northwestern United States. They are active in their community as an advocate for mutual aid, reproductive justice, and reduction in barriers to care. They also own and manage an inclusive private practice. As a member of both Queer and Neurodivergent communities, offering inclusive care on every level is very important to Bryna. Their vision is to offer information and tools to providers to build a community of comprehensive, concordant, and individualized care for all families in the perinatal period.

Kara Kaikini, MS, IBCLC  

Kara has been an International Board-Certified Lactation Consultant since 2009 and has worked as a home visitor, postpartum doula, childbirth educator, and a hospital childbirth education and lactation services program manager. She teaches prenatal classes and facilitates the weekly breastfeeding group for Maine Medical Center. Kara is the Board President of the Maine State Breastfeeding Coalition (MSBC) whose mission is to enhance the culture of breastfeeding and chestfeeding around the state of Maine through advocacy, education, and connection. She is passionate about supporting people throughout their vulnerable transitions to new parenthood (and eventual return to work) and helping them meet their infant feeding goals. Kara lives with her husband, two active boys, and one energetic dog in coastal Maine. 

Nekisha Killings MPH IBCLC 

Nekisha is an equity strategist and maternal and child health advocate who speaks, teaches, and facilitates on topics related to equity and dismantling bias across various sectors. She acts as a Director of Equity, Inclusion and Belonging and consults organizations on creating and implementing strategies to better support marginalized communities. Nekisha penned the chapter titled Cultural Humility in the latest Core Curriculum for Interdisciplinary Lactation Care. Nekisha is on a mission to normalize brown breasts in health provider education, thereby better equipping providers to accurately diagnose and treat people of color. Accordingly, she founded The Melanated Mammary Atlas® in 2021. Nekisha‘s work is rooted in a compassion and candor that could only have been cultivated in years of supporting new parents through their journeys during the first days of parenthood. 

Bonus Session
Naomi
Bar-Yam, PhD, ACSW

Naomi has been working in maternal and child health for 35 years as an educator, researcher, advocate and writer. She is past president of the Human Milk Banking Association of North America (HMBANA) and the founding director of Mother’s Milk Bank Northeast which provides safe donor milk to hospitals and families throughout the northeastern U.S. An expert on access to perinatal health care and policies that support breastfeeding, she has been a consultant to the Centers for Disease Control, to the United States Breastfeeding Committee, and to the March of Dimes . She also developed a curriculum for hospital personnel about combining breastfeeding with their work. She reviews articles submitted to the Journal of Human Lactation, Breastfeeding Medicine, and other publications related to breastfeeding, milk banking, and access to perinatal childcare.

Planning Committee

Cheryl Bean-Moody, BS, CLC 
Bettina Pearson, RN, BSN, IBCLC
Veronica Sweeney, RN, IBCLC
Shannon Axelson, CNM, MSN
Jennifer Viger, DTR, IBCLC 

Technical Manager:
Ken Tackett, Praeclarus Press

Special Thanks

With recognition of the contributions from the State of Maine WIC staff towards the planning of this educational offering. www.maine.gov/wic